China - Three Swiss journalists and Chinese cameraman arrested in two separate incidents

    MONTREAL, Nov. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
arrests of three foreign journalists and a Chinese cameraman on 20 November in
the northeastern province of Hebei and the central province of Hubei. "It is
unacceptable that such practices are still taking place in China, despite the
new regulations introduced in January for the Olympic Games," the press
freedom organisation said.
    Barbara Luthi, the Beijing correspondent of the Swiss TV channel
Schweizer Fernsehen, and her Chinese cameraman were detained for seven hours
in Shengyou, a village in Hebei province where unrest led to the deaths of six
people in 2005. They were manhandled by plain-clothes police pretending to be
residents, and the interviews they had filmed in the village were erased.
    "I have been interrogated by the police before, but this was completely
different," Luthi told the Foreign Correspondents Club of China. "This is the
first time I have been physically attacked," said Luthi, who fell to the
ground after being pushed. She and her cameraman were finally released after
the local foreign affairs office intervened.
    Mathias Brascheler and Monika Fisher, a Swiss husband-and-wife team of
photographers, were detained for three hours in Wuchang, a village to the
south of Wuhan, in Hubei province, where they were doing a report on villagers
who had been threatened and beaten in connection with a land dispute. They had
been talking to residents, without using equipment, when police forced them to
go the police station.
    "After two hours, we asked if we could go," Brascheler told the Foreign
Correspondents Club of China. "The police chief then seriously threatened to
hold us for 12 hours. They wanted to check our IDs. Someone from the foreign
affairs office came, said everything was in order and wanted to invite us for
lunch to 'clarify' certain points. When we refused, they began checking our
videotapes, our equipment and our notesŠ I said I would call our embassy
if they did not release us. They then let us go."


    Party newspaper attacks foreign media and Reporters Without Borders

    The governmental news agency Xinhua today posted an article on its
website from Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times), a sister publication of the
Communist Party's Remin Ribao (People's Daily), condemning the "determination
of organisations that relay prejudices" against China. Claiming that China is
the victim of baseless rumours spread by NGOs such as Reporters Without
Borders, it cites recent reports that the Chinese authorities are compiling
files on foreign journalists in the approach to the Olympic Games.
    One by one, the article takes issues with all the recent reports by
foreign newspapers and NGOs about the Olympics. In particular, it denies the
story about files being kept on foreign journalists and accuses the Washington
Post, International Herald Tribune, Die Welt, Associated Press, Voice of
America and other foreign media of "spreading rumours" in an attempt to
destabilize the government. An "expert on Sino-German relations," identified
as Beixike, is quoted as saying these "inventions" are part of a plan to
sabotage the Olympics.
    "Chinese journalists, and also Chinese students, are strictly controlled
abroad, especially as regards obtaining visas or job interviews," the article
says. "Some are even accused by foreign intelligence services of spying, with
proofs that could well have been fabricated. In fact, it is foreign
governments that compile enormous databases. These newspapers publish articles
on the basis of very unreliable sources. Is this the press freedom they

For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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